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Self-Reflection: How to connect myself to action

When the search for approval drains your career, your wallet and your heart . . .  you might begin to ask yourself, “How did I get so lost? When did I dump myself like a bad date? Where did I let go of the reins of my life?”

by, Therese Bogan, MFT #45643

When the search for approval drains your career, your wallet and your heart . . .  you might begin to ask yourself, “How did I get so lost? When did I dump myself like a bad date? Where did I let go of the reins of my life?”
Asking people to reflect is a big part of my work with people, in my private office, and in organizations I visit and serve. So many people use conversation with their therapist as a jumping off point, to restart their own self-reflection process; and, they can find real sanity and reconnection to their original values or goals. We also use so much of our reflection process in our most important relationships ~ from our partners to our boss or colleagues, and our children. Its the little ones who are relying on our powers of reflection, as they grow their own. They do as we do, without question or reflection.
“Go think about this and get back to me,” is a phrase you might hear at work. But, how do we do that? Do you shrink down and get scared? Do you immediately know that you have no clue or answer to a problem, so you run to someone else? Knowing how to reflect on your own is a skill that is often left to 12-14 year-old girls who are told they have “problems” and they need to journal. But really, we all have the power to reflect and use our critical thinking and best self when setting the stage for reflection and then connecting the results to our actions. Many also think that reflection is prayer or a private pity party that leads to solemn nights and no outcome. Many people do both prayer and pity with limited results. And, this can be true if we lose our habits that please us and makes us feel rejuvenated, nourished and ready for the actions that need to be taken in the world.
To begin again try:
  • Know how you reflect ~ not anyone else ~ and make a juicy menu of options: do you need to walk/run/dance? Do you write works? Listen to music? Do you chat and then think? Do you take pictures? Draw? Collect objects? Arrange spaces or rooms until you are in that “special state” with yourself?
  • To set the stage: use what you know works for you and set up a space in your life that’s private and for you ~ only you! Sometimes the dog or cat is invited.
  • Set a date with yourself: make the time and keep it.
  • Start with asking yourself the right questions, ask from all angles: What is my situation or relationship that is bothering me? What is on my mind that won’t go away? What am I wishing for? Why? What’s missing? Then begin to chose to use your critical thinking to hone in on one issue and give this issue or wish all of the ability to study or analyze a problem. How did I get here? What are my options? Where, exactly, am I stuck? Why did I let myself get stuck?
  • Get honest with your self first: You can deal with your dishonesty with others at some other time. This time is for you to reflect and forgive yourself first. Get clean with yourself inside and then consider safe ways to heal.
  • Make the distinction between feelings and actions that you can take: Feelings change about every 10 minutes and they are happening inside of you. Actions come out of your mouth, off the ends of your fingers, or from movement in your body and they have direct consequences outside of you. Think about the difference and look at where your feelings push you into action.
  • Get into a decision making process: enter into our style of decision making. Get to know how you make decisions by looking at how your bought your car or chose your current job. Ask yourself if you like that process, and if not, change it.
  • Be accountable to yourself about resetting your decision when your action fails or you don’t follow through: if you blow yourself off, try again. If you blow yourself off again, try again.
  • Forgetting or letting go: The difference between the decision making process and art is creativity. The element present in creativity is the unconscious. When we let go of the outcome and forget about our “issue,” our unconscious goes to work on it. This is where our inner gold resides. Letting your unconscious do its proper work completes the cleansing cycle. Let go of the idea, problem or wish and your unconscious will do the work.

So many new fruits can come when we start again with our unique power as humans, to self-reflect. We can get stuck in old obstacles like our questioning of God or spirit, haunting threats from past failures, mental clutter, distraction, TV, your substance of choice or differing into someone’s opinion or threats. Ultimately, these obstacles can be moved or stalled, with practice. When we arrive at a healthy reflection process we can listen deeply, and with the intention of being honest in our actions, we can find our way. When we follow through for ourselves, the satisfaction from at least trying can be more deeply nourishing than our success in one action or another.
Simply, we have the ability to fall apart and pick ourselves up, everyday. When we take the small moments to reflect we are giving ourselves the chance to pick up where we left off, try again, or see our situation in a new light. Getting clean inside is a simple task. Often, people clean their dishes or their hair more often than their inner space. Ultimately, our self leaves a shinning mark brighter than our gold or jewels. We do not need to reserve our discernment for new shoes, picking out other peoples problems, or the endless list of grievances from daily life. We can apply high levels of skill to reclaiming the power we can use and leaving the rest of life to tend for itself. Being clean and new, with ourselves first, is our deepest way to get ready for action.
“Never by reflection, but only by doing is self-knowledge possible to one.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Traci Ruble

Traci Ruble

Traci is a therapist and the CEO of PSYCHED & Managing Director of Sidewalk Talk. Her therapy work is centered around working with couples and individuals working on their relationships. Her many years in corporate life make her a good match for executives and leaders.

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  1. Morgan on April 15, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you Therese! Very well said. I really enjoyed reading this – very much needed this reminder today.

  2. Psyched in San Francisco Psychotherapists on April 15, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Absolutely! Thanks Morgan. Reminders are always needed along the path. I’m glad it spoke to you.